British Poetry Seminar I(2019)


 Songs of Experience




Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who Present, Past, & Future sees 
Whose ears have heard, 
The Holy Word, 
That walk'd among the ancient trees. 

Calling the lapsed Soul 
And weeping in the evening dew: 
That might controll, 
The starry pole; 
And fallen fallen light renew!

O Earth O Earth return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumberous mass.

Turn away no more: 
Why wilt thou turn away 
The starry floor 
The watry shore 
Is giv'n thee till the break of day.

*Genesis 3.8: "And [Adam and Eve] heard the voice of the Lord God waling in the garden in the cool of the day." The Bard, or poet-prophet, whose imagination is not bound by time, has heard the voice of the Lord in Eden. (from Norton Anthology footnote)
*Another version of Genesis 3.8-9. "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'"


1.  What is the subject of "calling" at the beginning of Stanza 2?  The Bard or the Holy Word?

2. What is the subject of "might controll"?

3. What is the tone of this poem?  Angry, Resentful, Sympathetic, Unhappy, Sad, Hopeful, Optimistic?

4. Any difference with the poem with the same title in Songs of Innocence?


The Chimney Sweeper


A little black thing among the snow,
Crying "weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother? say?"
"They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smil'd among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery."


1. Any difference in the tone of voice in the narrator's words in comparison with "The Chimney Sweeper" of Innocence?

2. As a social criticism, which chimney sweeper you think is more effective?

Holy Thursday


Is this a holy thing to see, 
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reducd to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine. 
And their fields are bleak & bare. 
And their ways are fill'd with thorns. 
It is eternal winter there.

For where-e'er the sun does shine, 
And where-e'er the rain does fall: 
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.





1. What exactly the narrator is protesting about?


2. What expression in this poem is the strongest as a term of social criticism at that time? 


3. Any political resonance in "poverty" in this poem?








   Related Keyword : Blake Songs of Experience